Medicaid enrollment reaches high of 74M Americans during pandemic

The number of Americans enrolled in Medicaid reached a record of almost 74 million earlier this year after ballooning in enrollees during the pandemic, the administration announced on Monday.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report documented the jump in Medicaid’s enrollees by 9.7 million between February 2020 — before the U.S. declared public health emergency — and January 2021 in a 15 percent increase.

The enrollment count marks the highest since the CMS started tracking the data in its current form in 2013, The Washington Post noted.

Compared to Medicaid, enrollees in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remained relatively stable throughout the time period, as states were not mandated to keep all enrollees during the emergency. The number of CHIP enrollees saw an uptick from almost 6.7 million to nearly 6.8 million in a 1.8 percent increase.

Why the increase: The federal agency attributes the boost in enrollees to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed in March 2020.

The first relief bill approved by Congress included a provision giving states a temporary 6.2 percent increase in funds to cover expected higher Medicaid costs, as long as these states did not remove any enrollees until after the emergency was declared over.

“The increase we are seeing is exactly how Medicaid works: the program steps in to support people and their families when times are tough,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement.